15 Windows 3.x GUI Shells

Following on from my look at various DOS GUIs, these are all the alternative shells I've been able to find for Windows 3.x.

There are 15 different shells with 34 versions in total in the attached zip file.

They range in form and function from the very good (Calmira, Calypso, Silver Wolf, Norton, Central Point) to the very awful (Microsoft Bob).

Most of these are freeware, but some (Norton Desktop, Central Point Desktop, Xerox) may be shareware.

I've not done a review document on these, so you can download and try whatever takes your fancy.

Based on my impressions, I've categorised them into 3 main and 3 sub categories:

01 - Excellent / Very Good / Good
       01a  - Windows 95 style
       01b  - Top menu bar style
       01c   - Neither of the above
02 - SoSo
03 - Poor / Awful

Your experience of them may be different so rather than quibble with my assessment, download the zip and try them out for yourself, as your experience and opinion of them may be different to mine.

All the install files I have are in the attached .zip file.

There are also screenshots of each shell in the folders - note that for Calmira Longhorn and Calmira XP I couldn't get the screen resolution in Virtualbox set to suit them, so some solid colours are rather low-res.

I've also created floppy images and/or ISO images for each one (if they didn't have one) so that I could install them in either DOS or  Windows 3.1 and these image files are included in the relevant folders.

The Shells

The Windows 3.x shells I've included in the attached zip file are:

The Excellent, Very Good and Good:

  01a - Calmira I, Calmira II, Calmira Longhorn, Calmira XP (10 versions)
  01a - Calypso v2.1
  01a - Winbar v1.2
  01b - HP New Wave Desktop
  01b - Norton Desktop (5 versions)
  01b - Central Point Desktop (2 versions)
  01b - Silver Wolf Desktop
  01c - Easy Desktop v5.0d
  01c - Workplace Shell (IBM)

The SoSo:

  02   - Aporia Shell
  02   - HDC Windows Express
  02   - Wayfarer Shell

The Poor and the Awful:

  03   - Packard Bell Navigator (4 versions)
  03   - Xerox Rooms / Global View (3 versions)
  03   - Microsoft BOB

There are some excellent Windows 3.x shells in the zip, so download it and try a few.

Kind regards,

The files available for download here are:

* A zip archive with the Install files for all versions of Windows 3.x graphical shells I've found
   15_Windows_3.x_Shells_Install_Files.zip    (1.3GB)

* Screenshots of each boot manager are included in each boot manager's folder and also in this pdf file:

I've also uploaded these files to the Internet Archive here:
   https://archive.org/details/50-Windows-3.x-Shells       (the curse of cut'n'paste)

Screenshots:       (Use your browser's right click function "Open Image In New Tab" to see larger images)











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Updated  17 July 2023